It has been a science fiction dream for years but now it is reality. A display inside a contact lens. The first prototype only supports black/white preloaded images but the scientists believe there is a much greater potential for the medical industry and even augmented reality.
Display embedded in contact lens
Research organization IMEC, under CMST from Belgium, has created a prototype curved LCD screen embedded into a contact lens. It has been challenging but they now have a functional prototype.
It is now possible to embed a LCD display into a contact lens
The first prototype works like a display inside a calculator. Pre-defined elements are created in the screen before implementation. These elements can be activated or deactivated – like the US dollar sign in the picture. The contact lens already works as “sunglasses” that can be activated and deactivated, thus dimming the light that meets the eye.
The researchers envision two routes from here. One is the medical industry where they hope to utilize it for people with a damaged iris by blocking light in that area of the eye. The second route is augmented reality where you add layers of information on top of the vision, for example GPS directions in front of your vision. This is a much larger project as it is involves a range of challenges because a fully functional display needs to be embedded.
Another major challenge is that the eye cannot focus on an object that hovers so close so only people from looking at you will be able to see for example the dollar sign.
CMST says that they will start working towards bringing the concept into real products. They hope to have something ready within a few years.